August 28 - September 3, 2022

For the week of 08/28 – 09/03/2022 – 12th week after Pentecost

Morning prayer: Infinite God, You have brought us into abundance. You have given us physical and spiritual nourishment. You have led us to flowing waters of grace. We come to worship today, seeking these things for our souls. May we accept what You offer us today in its entirety, that we might share with others. Amen. (Discipleship Ministries)

Call to Worship Hebrews 13:1-3, 7-8, 15-16

Let mutual love continue. 2Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. 3Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured. 7Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. 8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 15Through Him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess His name. 16Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Hymn #92 For the Beauty of the Earth

  1. For the beauty of the earth, for the glory of the skies,
    for the love which from our birth over and around us lies;
    Lord of all, to Thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise.
  2. For the beauty of each hour of the day and of the night,
    hill and vale, and tree and flower, sun and moon, and stars of light;
    Lord of all, to Thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise.
  3. For the joy of ear and eye, for the heart and mind's delight,
    for the mystic harmony, linking sense to sound and sight;
    Lord of all, to Thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise.
  4. For the joy of human love, brother, sister, parent, child,
    friends on earth and friends above, for all gentle thoughts and mild;
    Lord of all, to Thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise.
  5. For Thy church, that evermore lifteth holy hands above,
    offering up on every shore her pure sacrifice of love;
    Lord of all, to Thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise.
  6. For Thyself, best Gift Divine, to the world so freely given,
    for that great, great love of Thine, peace on earth, and joy in heaven:
    Lord of all, to Thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise.

Children’s message Scripture:  Jeremiah 2:11-13 Scripture quotations from the World English Bible  Copyright 2014, Richard Niell Donovan  Be Astonished – Sermon Writer


Has a nation changed its gods, which really are no gods?  But my people have changed their glory for that which doesn’t profit. “Be astonished, you heavens, at this and be horribly afraid. Be very desolate,” says Yahweh. “For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the spring of living waters, and cut out cisterns for themselves: broken cisterns that can’t hold water.

Our lesson today consists of just two words. They are found in the Bible, in the book of Jeremiah. One of the words may not be familiar to you, so we’ll talk about that.

The two words are: “Be astonished…” (2:12). What does the word “astonished” mean? Does anyone know? Can anyone tell us?

“Astonished” is a word you don’t hear very often. It means to be suddenly surprised, but even more than surprised. It means to be overwhelmed by something, often something very wonderful. When you are astonished you are amazed and speechless.

You may have seen a person put a hand over their mouth when they are shocked or astonished by something they see. People in England have another word for being astonished. They call it being “gobsmacked.” Almost like being hit in the mouth.

You may wonder why we are spending so much time talking about the definition of this word, “astonished.”

Sometimes we become too busy, or perhaps lazy, and we forget to notice what is around us. God has given us an incredible world and it is filled to overflowing with interesting, shocking, and beautiful things. We could talk endlessly about insects, fish, animals, trees, flowers, mountains, clouds, or snowflakes – each so intricately made. Think of your own body; how everything functions in a certain way to make you healthy and active.

We should be astonished every day, from the time we first open our eyes in the morning until we fall asleep at night.

Let the wonders of God’s world astonish you. Be gobsmacked!

Prayers of Intercession:  Thank You, Lord, for hearing our prayers for those dear to our hearts.  We now pray as You have taught us: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen. 

Offering spotlightYour offering pays the United Methodist denomination which spreads the Gospel all over the world.  We share in the ministry so that others may learn of His love.   

Offering prayer: Renewing and refreshing God, fill our thirsty souls with Your living water! As Jesus promised to the woman at the well, and as Jeremiah reminded the prophets, this water is ours if we keep our focus on You and don’t chase after other gods. May the offering we make this day mark our commitment to keeping our eyes and our hearts set on a closer walk with You. We pray in the name of Jesus, our rock and our redeemer. Amen. (Discipleship Ministries)

Hymn #400 Come, Thou Fount of every Blessing

  1. Come, Thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
    streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.
    Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above.
    Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it, mount of Thy redeeming love.
  2. Here I raise mine Ebenezer; hither by Thy help I'm come;
    and I hope, by Thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home.
    Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God;
    He, to rescue me from danger, interposed His precious blood.
  3. O to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be!
    Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee.
    Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love;
    here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.

Gospel Lesson Luke 14:1, 7-14

14On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching Him closely.

7When He noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, He told them a parable. 8“When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; 9and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. 10But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. 11For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” 12He said also to the one who had invited Him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. 13But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Message: Watching Where You Sit                 Pastor Becky Cuddeback

Nothing causes me anxiety like having to choose a seat. Grade school and high school never prepared me for this task out in the real world. I look back fondly on the desks with our names taped to them, organizing myself in alphabetical order – knowing precisely where to sit. I breathe a sigh of relief when I get to weddings and conferences once I spy the seating chart.

You see, without a chart, millions of questions flood my mind. Am I taking a seat that another needs, am I too close, and I too far away? Have I made myself too much the center of attention, what if the presenter needs a volunteer and now I am the volunteer?

Now when it comes to the question of if someone else needs that particular seat, I would hope that I seem approachable enough to be asked to move, but merely by the virtue of needing to be asked, I am opening another to the vulnerability of having to disclose information personal to them. That honestly, they may not be ready to disclose and now they are off suffering somewhere in silence. I’ve now caused someone else to struggle and life is full of struggles and I don’t want to be the reason someone struggles.

May these aren’t familiar feelings for you; let’s try an example that may be more familiar to you. Have you ever gone into a new church and had to pick a pew? I’m sure we all have a few of those sitting in the wrong pew stories. I seem to always pick the pew that belongs to the family who are direct descendants of the founder and me being in their pew would constitute an enormous disturbance in the force.

Hopefully, I’ve painted a vivid picture for you, the thumbnail is this – I don’t like to pick a seat.

Luke is recounting a Sabbath meal with Jesus. The leader has invited Jesus and the leader is watching Jesus and the flip side to that is Jesus is watching to see where the other folks are choosing their places. Because picking the right seat was/is important in societal ranking. The host has offered no chart to guide them and they need to choose where they believe they belong. Now the seat of honor is the best place, but we get no indication that seat has been offered to Jesus. As Jesus is watching all this going on, He speaks the words of Proverbs 25:6-7 “Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence or stand in the place of the great; for it is better to be told, “Come up here”, than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.” He continues by saying to those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those humbled will be exalted.

Does this remind you of other scriptures or teachings of Jesus?

  • The first will be last and the last first?
  • Maybe it reminds you of Mary’s song recorded in the beginning of Luke’s gospel: “He (God) has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; He has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty”

With Jesus, according to Jesus, the Kingdom of God is always about reversal of earthly paradigms, earthly economies and earthly groundings. In an earthly economy, good works and favorable acts are accounted for, kept record of, which now makes the relationships built into transactional relationships. In these relationships there is always a benefit to the giver, there is always a reward, something to gain, these things could be status, material goods, wealth or power. People become a means to an end. Jesus says to invite, to interact and to sit with those who can never repay your kindness. It is to lift them up and see them as children of God. For us to make real the Kingdom of God, for all to experience God’s care, mercy, grace and love.

At our baptism, we acknowledge (with the hope of us internalizing) this truth, God gives us the freedom and the power to resist evil, injustice and oppression in the myriad of forms they present themselves. The only way to resist evil, injustice and oppression is to acknowledge these conditions exist, to know they are real and have disastrous effects on humanity, but we cannot begin to see any of this if we are abstaining from interacting with those different from ourselves.

When was the last time you sat at a table and had fellowship with a non Christian, someone from a different ethnicity, different race, or economic class from you? How diverse are your friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances?

It is easy to misjudge, to be prideful when we are clueless as to how another tries to navigate their lives. It is easy to think the problem is with them and not the systems and powers that have authority over us.

Now is not the time for us to take refuge from the world and hold up in our small groups of brothers and sisters in our church. Now is when we choose our seats with those with no voice, no power and no hope of seeing the Kingdom Jesus promised and has proclaimed as being brought near.

Spend this week listening and looking at stories different from yours. Reflect on what it means to sit with those who can never repay your hospitality as we usher in the Kingdom of God.

Closing Hymn: #389 Freely, Freely

  1. God forgave my sin in Jesus’ name, I’ve been born again in Jesus’ name,
    and in Jesus’s name I come to you, to share His love as He told me to.

Refrain:  He said, “Freely, freely you have received, freely, freely give.

Go in My name and because you believe, others will know that I live.

  1. All power is given in Jesus’ name, in earth and heaven in Jesus’ name,
    and in Jesus’ name I come to you, to share His power as He told me to.

Go into your week with the blessings of The Father, The Son, The Holy Spirit.

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